Written by Scott Bauman
Time flies, when you are coaching. It seems when your job is seasonal the inclination is always focusing forward or remembering the past. During the season, it is largely planning the next thing – practice, upcoming visits, or alumni/fundraising events. If asked to recall life three years ago, my immediate frame of reference is where was I coaching and did anything else occur during that time.
“Focus on the now.”
“Be where your feet are.”
“Live in the moment.”
All good ideas, that as coaches we hardly embody. Whether this is your last hoorah or back to reality let’s suitably take some free time to discuss how balancing on-the-court investment with off-the-court serenity can bring balance to a coach’s life. And with only so much left of summer, now is as good of a time as any to talk #OffTheCourt. Because we got workouts to plan, inventory to track, and film to break…..
Time to Get Away
During the offseason, I have found July to be the most accommodating month for vacation. And every coach’s schedule will vary, however, July tends to be a month where AAU ends and recruiting (which never stops) can slow down to some extent. Whether you are coaching at the collegiate, secondary, grassroots, or youth level there tends to be a time of reprieve for everyone during this month.
One thing my wife and I both do as soon as our seasons are over is take off to see family for at least a weekend. Coaching schedules can limit the amount of time we can take to see our families. And following a great season or bad, it is always enjoyable to regroup with perspective surrounded by family. If our schedules align, my wife and I will use our free time to escape somewhere new. Having the opportunity to live in New England has been great from a traveling standpoint. Seemingly an hour or two away from a lot of different sightseeing locations (mainly geocentric to a cluster of breweries), which is always something that my wife and I have enjoyed doing together. Could be the nomadic lifestyle that has been ingrained in us, but the exploration of new gives a certain sense of freedom from familiar territory.
The other advantage of living in New England is the high density of schools (colleges and universities) within driving proximity. While I know this topic is referencing #OffTheCourt, I am considering it a loophole when coaching staffs open their gym to others to observe practices. So, while I am not technically off-the-court; I am off-the-clock getting a behind the scenes look of summer workout sessions at some of the highest levels. This year I have stopped in at Providence College and Boston College. Two differently structured practices pertaining to their focus during workouts, both equally enjoyable to check out.
- Boston College – Primarily offensive drive & kick concepts focusing on spacing, footwork, and terminology. Heard a lot of use out of “Play Basketball” from Coach Christian instructing his guys to be more instinctive following an early attack. Drills were primarily 2v0 or 3v0 (on the full and 1/2) progressive by scoring options.
- Providence College – Seemed more comprehensive in nature starting with warmups of 3 man full-court drills targeting 13 makes in a minute without the ball hitting the floor. Incorporated a lot more elements of scheme -offensively and defensively – working secondary breaks flowing into halfcourt motion. Defensively, there was shell work executing rotations and specific closeouts per scout terminology.
Stress or Stress-Relief
It isn’t uncommon where many avoid stepping out of the office due to the concern of the amount work upon return. Almost a sense of guilt exists suggesting we should be spending our time elsewhere. Vacations are distorted realities. That’s the point. To alter the perception of what every day is like, to be abnormal, even if it is only for a brief period of time. Now, while I am not yet in a situation to speak on behalf of parents out there. I am sure the idea of vacation differs greatly from the unattached. Nonetheless, hopefully, there is at least one moment of nirvana detached from the constant thought of X’s and O’s, or creating the next acronym emblematic of program culture.
There are a few things that can lighten the load when you return.
- Create a schedule – Limit the number of surprises by planning ahead what needs to get done when you return.
- Great opportunity to delegate – Staffs are comprised of multiple positions for a reason. Gives opportunity for assistants to take on responsibilities that could prepare them for the future (at least, that’s what we tell them).
- Combine worlds – Golf is a great opportunity where I can take some time to connect with coaching buddies where we may chalk it up a bit, but also take in scenery outside the office because I’m likely in the trees somewhere working on my recovery game.
- Stay in routine – Admittedly, not something that I embrace. However, I have a couple coaching buddies that will attempt to keep daily habits (e.g. waking up early, working out, or reading) from the dog-days to the beach to avoid a hangover adjustment back in the office.
We’re not comparable to those that are in the business of saving lives or protect and serve. Our industry can come with some stress though, at least my increased size of forehead gives me that indication. Sometimes it can be self-induced with how much we can overthink certain issues; others can be out of our control at times with student-athletes inclination to make questionable decisions. Vacations or mental escapes are beneficial for mitigating the amount of stress we choose to undertake. It also helps when we are thinking at our best in order to model or articulate best practices for our athletes to stay sharp and in control.
*There is an increasing conversation of mental health in the NBA & WNBA with prominent professional athletes (i.e. Kevin Love, Demar DeRozan, and Liz Cambage) leading the way. And as coaches, our role is intrinsically having to become more involved in recognizing social-emotional challenges that athletes face today (NCAA Coaches).*
Advice on Balancing Schedules
Bruce Arians strict rule for his coaches on staff 💯 pic.twitter.com/hrPKt86a4U
— CoachTube.com (@thecoachtube) August 1, 2019
This speaks more to the core of valuing time and being present. As coaches, we likely preach (blanket presumption here) to our student-athletes how time is our most precious commodity. Perspective tends to be strongest during events that force us to be reminded of how quickly life moves. It is important to take the time to be great as coaches, so we can do our best to create experiences that last lifetimes. However, without taking breaks we will not be at our best. Without taking breaks we will not create experiences of our own. Breaks can supplement our lives to be balanced as coaches, parents, and people. Get away from the game. Turn off notifications from social media. Do something else. Once recharged, let’s go to work!